One of the reasons, of course, for the startling line-up of options the BMW gives you about the way it drives is that it has rather startling performance.
The current conditions that are a drag on so much of life have precluded us from undertaking performance tests, but BMW seldom undersells in the figures it puts out. For the M8 Competition, that includes a 0-62mph time of 3.2sec. It’s worth revisiting the M5 in this case, then – a car of similar weight but less slippery through the air.
In our hands, the M5 wanted 3.3sec to reach 60mph and just 7.5sec to hit 100mph, and it went through a standing quarter mile in 11.5sec at 125mph and a standing kilometre in 20.8sec, by which time it was doing 159mph. The M8 should better all of these. The M5 was a non-Competition version with ‘just’ 592bhp – and when we figured it, it was damp.
Now, all of that’s fine, but we have driven the M8 on circuit in the UK, both at its launch and for video, and the nature of the performance is quite different from the one the figures suggest. Never – obviously – does it feel slow, but there is a subtleness and softness to the M8’s remarkable speed of the sort for which they practically invented velvet/iron glove/fist clichés.
Turbo lag is notable for its absence, the eight-speed auto (a torque converter rather than a dual-clutch unit) shifts smoothly and sweetly and even the noise, augmented through the loudspeakers as it is, is on the understated side.
The £20,000 of extras on our test car were all part of the Ultimate Pack, which includes carbon-ceramic brakes that stand up to abuse on a circuit terrifically well (a theme we’ll return to in a moment) yet have fine pedal feel at lower speeds. It also includes an M Driver’s Package – a way to delimit the car’s top speed from 155mph to 190mph.